MONDAY, Jan. 30, 2023 (HealthDay News) — Transgender youth in Utah are now blocked from receiving gender-affirming surgery and hormone therapy after Gov. Spencer Cox signed a bill Saturday that largely bans such care for youth. Cox said that the ban was necessary until more research is done on long-term effects of treatments, The New York Times reported.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Utah responded, saying the law violated due process and constitutional equal protection rights. “This bill effectively bans access to lifesaving medical care for transgender youth in Utah,” Brittney Nystrom, executive director of the organization, said in a statement. “It undermines the health and well-being of adolescents, limits the options of doctors, patients, and parents, and violates the constitutional rights of these families.”
But Cox stood firm on the bill. “While we understand our words will be of little comfort to those who disagree with us, we sincerely hope that we can treat our transgender families with more love and respect as we work to better understand the science and consequences behind these procedures,” Cox, who is a Republican, said in a statement.
While leading medical groups have rejected the idea that gender-affirming care is harmful, a small number of medical professionals have cited concerns that puberty blockers may affect bone density, The Times reported.
The Utah bill is only the first of many expected this year. More than 150 Republican-proposed bills in 25 states would restrict transgender rights, including more than 12 bills focusing on blocking transgender youth from surgical or hormonal care, according to The Times.
Kansas and Mississippi would ban gender-affirming care for anyone up to age 21 years. Bills in Oklahoma and South Carolina would go further, criminalizing gender-affirming care for transgender people younger than age 26 years, The Times reported. Last year, Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, and Tennessee restricted access to gender-transition care for transgender youth, though federal judges in Arkansas and Alabama have blocked those laws during litigation. Texas took a different tack by classifying gender-affirming health care as child abuse last year and authorizing investigation of families of transgender children seeking care. The governor and attorney general were later blocked by the state Supreme Court from ordering investigations, but only for families who had sued.
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